Episode 52: All this data…not enough insights?

Jeff Culliton (00:02):

If a campaign gets launched with no insights, is it even really a campaign?

Speaker 2 (00:09):

You’re listening to the A Game, an Adcom podcast chronicling the week in media, technology and agency life, featuring Joel Hammond, Jim Ganzer and Jeff Culliton.

Jeff Culliton (00:19):

Welcome to episode 52 of the A Game. I’m excited today. I’m excited every day, but I’m excited today because we have a new entrant. Sarah Shamsi, who her title even doesn’t do her justice, so I’m not even going to mention her title. What Sarah does is she’s a business analyst, is functionally what she is, and our business is shifting heavily into data aggregation and insights. And so, I couldn’t be more tickled that you are here today. Do you want [crosstalk 00:00:51].

Sarah Shamsi (00:50):

Thank you.

Jeff Culliton (00:52):

See? She’s already a natural, she’s already stepping over me. And one, Charles and [inaudible 00:00:57] Schafer, who is our senior director of account planning, who has been on one previous episode and was so good, the ratings were so good, the number of downloads were so good, that it sounds like he might have a full-time slot.

Charlie Schafer (01:11):

I heard that it was the highest rated podcast of all time for anything.

Jeff Culliton (01:16):

Well, whoever told you that was a liar, but [crosstalk 00:01:19].

Charlie Schafer (01:18):

I thought so.

Jeff Culliton (01:19):

I like the enthusiasm. So, what I want to get into today, usually we do, we’re very current event related. Today, we’re not going to go so current event as much as current tactic. And I want to specifically talk about that because of the amount of influence it’s having on not only the business that we currently do, but the business that we’ve been winning and why I think it affects that. And it’s one of the reasons directly that Sarah’s here because she, along with Joe Hannam, run so deeply in this sphere. But we’re talking about is insights and analytics, the massive data that washes over everybody, all the time, but it’s particularly difficult in the marketing realm of things, because a lot of the data we come in contact with in and of itself on face value doesn’t mean a lot until it’s paired together with other things. So, Joel pretends that this isn’t really his area of expertise, I beg to differ.

Joel Hammond (02:20):

Well go. Yeah, first of all, we should have a really provocative intro every week because that was a really good intro.

Jeff Culliton (02:28):

Thanks, man.

Joel Hammond (02:28):

Yeah. If a tree falls in the forest, if a campaign is launched.

Jeff Culliton (02:32):

Yeah, that’s great.

Joel Hammond (02:33):

But I mean Jeff’s right. So, everything we do, I mean Sarah and Charlie and Joe and other smarter people in the building lead our analytics effort, but it really does. If you’re not using data to measure everything that you do, then you’re doing it wrong. I mean, we use data to intricately and exhaustively insert other really ridiculous adjective/adverb analyze our stuff. I mean, so we’ve uncovered, we’ve used it to help us identify what platforms are most engaging based on audience. Within that platform, what type of content is most engaging within that platform. So, really exciting times, as far as what you can use your numbers to do for you.

Sarah Shamsi (03:23):

More than that… I want to jump in here.

Joel Hammond (03:24):

Oh, I love it.

Jeff Culliton (03:24):

There she is. She’s in.

Sarah Shamsi (03:26):

More than that, we use it to answer questions. So, Joel kind of jumped ahead to some of the ways we use it to answer questions, but it all starts with very clear, focused objectives. S, if you don’t have a clear objective, you don’t really know what you’re looking for, and you’re jumping into a pool of crazy overloaded information, and you’re trying to make sense of things that may not seem so clear, it’s very muddy. And so, the objective will lead you through the data and help you navigate it and make sense of it [crosstalk 00:03:52] much more efficiently.

Jeff Culliton (03:54):

Charlie, to me, this brings an interesting point, even from my, the time of my career, I feel like we as a business now have pivoted from reporting, quote unquote, doing something in the rears to try and validate a performance to really more where you lie, which is understanding an audience and insight in order to make those judgements in advance of a campaign like Sarah’s talking about, so that we can architect outcomes up front, that we can then monitor in the backend. What are some of the things that you’re doing now that we’re doing that help us in that upfront to maybe make sure we’re reaching the right people?

Charlie Schafer (04:37):

Sure. Well, I think there’s a strong correlation with, as Sarah was just saying, if you know what questions you need to have answered and can pull the data forward and then pull it all the way back up to the early brief process, or even the discovery process with the client, you can often lead to new insights, new findings, whether it’s from brand truths or to audience segmentations, swapping things, changing things, evolving things just by really looking at the data in different ways. And I think this is where visualization comes in pretty heavily.

Jeff Culliton (05:14):


Charlie Schafer (05:15):

How do you, how are you sharing this data with people? I think if you’re visualizing it appropriately, it’s easily digestible. If you’re not, you can confuse everybody to the point of no return. So, I really think it’s important to just boil it down, make it look interesting, make it look compelling, given the data accuracy.

Jeff Culliton (05:39):

Sarah, so I think you probably get both sides of, “Hey, we gave you a raw extract of stuff… [crosstalk 00:05:48]”

Joel Hammond (05:48):

Do something with this.

Jeff Culliton (05:49):

Here’s a… Versus when something is presented in a visualized format, do you see a drastic difference in not only the retention of internal teams, but how that flows to a client or whomever the external sources like, “Oh, I get it now” versus, “Oh, here was 8,500 rows of data” because that’ll make me seize up.

Sarah Shamsi (06:12):

So, I feel like our focus is able to shift entirely from spending so much more time combing through rows and rows and rows and columns and columns and columns, and trying to make sense of it, to now, we’re able to get together as a group and spend 15 minutes talking about what is the story and monitoring a trend rather than reading through line items in a huge Excel file or CSV. So, we’re able to take a lot more from the conversations we’re having because our media teams can involved, our creative teams can get involved. Everybody can look at it and understand the same things and have different angles of what they’re looking at.

Sarah Shamsi (06:46):

So, one person’s chiming in from a media perspective saying, “How is our campaign performing?” While the creative guy is saying, “Hey, I need to make a change to my creative. I need to swap out a subject line or a headline or change some body copy.” Whereas, if you’re in an Excel sheet, you’re looking at one thing at a time and it’s taking way longer and being way less efficient and way less collaborative that way. And now we’re able to work as a team better.

Jeff Culliton (07:08):

What if you really screw up your assumptions upfront? Is it easier now to pivot on that [crosstalk 00:07:14].

Sarah Shamsi (07:13):


Jeff Culliton (07:13):

Because the data’s flowing in… Because the thing I always look at is, you’re making, these are all educated guesses right up front. I mean, you’ve got years of experience like Joel has, you can make some pretty good educated guesses, but at what point do you get through and you’re like, “Oh, shit. Not good.”

Sarah Shamsi (07:31):

I feel like we’ve had that happen even recently with some more qualitative work. [crosstalk 00:07:36].

Jeff Culliton (07:36):

It’s a fact of life, right? I mean, it’s just going to happen.

Sarah Shamsi (07:39):

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Where we go in thinking we’re going to find a lot of information, we’re going to see a lot of strong, dominant results in one area. And then we turn around and find out there’s absolutely nothing, and our hypothesis was completely off, where that is a huge insight and a huge finding when we run into something where there’s a gap or a void, and we expected to see something.

Joel Hammond (07:56):

That’s the fun part for me. And I think are the best clients are… Well, the best agencies and the best clients are those that don’t marry themselves to their findings because we’re obviously in a time where things can change quickly. Right? So, I think our goal and our what we try to offer is we’re able to adjust on the fly, as you mentioned, and really evaluate ourselves and our client’s performance on an ongoing basis that helps us be nimble to make those changes. I talked earlier, sorry Jeff, about some client work that we’ve done and where we’ve been able to find what’s most engaging on a platform level, on a content type level, but those things then have changed. And I think our best clients and the clients that I’m speaking of specifically understand that, and are comfortable enough with us on readjusting and it’s not going back to our original findings say, “Oh, well, you were wrong.” Well, no, we weren’t wrong. We were right then and now it’s shifted.

Jeff Culliton (08:56):

This is, I use a term from time to time, called we work in a zero perfection business. And I think so much of expectations for anybody on anything are the level of upfront like, “Hey, this is a zero perfection thing. This is not, there’s no such thing as I got the perfect number of clicks, I got the perfect any of these things.” But I think you sit in, probably with an interesting visibility over the length of the last decade of your career, coming from more traditional print in those types of media, into social. And social for the early inceptions was just a visual medium in so many ways. It wasn’t about an analytics player and insights play. But now I would assume that there’s no strategy that you go into that doesn’t, that isn’t about the measurement almost as much as it is about the content calendaring or whatever it is. That’s had to have changed a lot over the last, what do you think, the last five years?

Joel Hammond (09:56):

Yeah. I mean, even in my previous stop, early on, it was, ah, there’s not really a way to really… We think that we’re doing good stuff and driving engagement and awareness and that sort of thing. And we’re not really worried about conversion.

Jeff Culliton (10:17):


Joel Hammond (10:19):

Now, that’s certainly changed even with organic stuff. I mean, you’re building toward those things even organically. And so, it’s been a major change.

Sarah Shamsi (10:29):

Well, in our reliance on data has informed how we even set up our campaigns. So, Joel and I even worked closely together for some of the social stuff upfront to make sure that we’re tracking everything appropriately and we’re covering all our bases and we have everything set up with the right classifications and groupings and set ups up front. So, it’s much more of an early conversation in the work we’re doing, than an afterthought where it’s like, “Oh, how did that do two months later?” Now it’s like, this is present every single day, every single post, we’re saying, “Is this content relevant? Is it meaningful? Is it reaching the right people? Is it getting the kind of results we’re expecting to see or wanting to see? Or do we need to pivot and make a change?” As he was starting to say.

Jeff Culliton (11:07):

So, one of the things that frustrates me is, specifically back to when I was talking about, we’re looking myopically at KPI of one specific, a click or a view, whatever the case is. And a lot of the times these are BS metrics viewed through just that lens. Like, “Oh, I want to know that my views are more than or have gone up by X amount of percentage across number of videos,” whatever the case is. How do you set people up with the right expectations, but also, how do you piece together the story up front to say, “Hey, XYZ client that we’re going to work with, these are nice things to see as indicators of intent, but we need to see the whole field in order to make an accurate judgment on your business.”

Charlie Schafer (12:00):

Right. I think this goes back to, I think a marketing term that gets thrown around, but it’s oftentimes ill used. And that is the dreaded marketing funnel. I mean, the marketing funnel, [crosstalk 00:12:15]. the marketing funnel is a marketing cycle, now. Wouldn’t a cycle be like more apt than a funnel? A funnel way indicates that it just ends at the end. And now we have momentum through influencer engagement, we’re spinning things back around into brand awareness, so aren’t we, I guess [crosstalk 00:12:34] we’re a cycle.

Jeff Culliton (12:35):

Did you see the sparkle you just put in Joel’s eye? Did you like that? Do we need a whiteboard?

Joel Hammond (12:41):

We might need a whiteboard [crosstalk 00:12:43].

Charlie Schafer (12:42):

I can Venn diagram something really quick [crosstalk 00:12:45].

Jeff Culliton (12:44):

Just go, just go.

Joel Hammond (12:44):

So, but before you continue, sorry. The funnel, it does seem a little outdated, right? Well, what are you doing with them when they get to the bottom of the funnel? You’re just leaving them there? No, you want them to, right? You want them to come back? Sure. I love it, Charlie, go.

Jeff Culliton (12:58):

So, is it a funnel to a cycle?

Charlie Schafer (12:59):

Look, my guess is if we [crosstalk 00:13:00].

Jeff Culliton (13:00):

Is it a funnel going to a hamster wheel?

Charlie Schafer (13:01):

If we all went back to marketing school tomorrow in a college, it probably looks a lot more cyclical than it did when my ancient body was at a marketing desk when I was in my teens. So, my guess it is more funnel, or more cycle-like than funnel-like. But it’s still a very important construct because it gives you the construct to guide a client from the beginning to the end of the campaign. What do you need from an awareness play here? What do you need from an interest play? What do you need from the decision play? What do you need from your optimization/momentum play as you move forward?

Charlie Schafer (13:42):

And I think you really… KPIs only live in one area of that. So, if you were really looking at click-through rate, you’re probably in that interest area, you’re probably headed over there trying to get down to the conversion portion of the funnel. So, your KPI’s really only valid there. I think one of the things that as we’re setting up campaigns as marketers, where you see problems or where you see fall offs in agency and client relations when it comes to understanding KPIs is not, is trying to have one thing achieve too many things. And I think that’s the problem that you’re indicating. So, click through rates your number one thing, but you really need to increase sales. Is that going to, how does [crosstalk 00:14:29] that KPI help you?

Jeff Culliton (14:29):

I clicked you through to a shitty landing page. [crosstalk 00:14:36]. It had a clown’s face on it and you’re terrified [crosstalk 00:14:37] of clowns.

Charlie Schafer (14:37):

Right. You just ripped off the oatmeal and put up something right away. It didn’t help you at all. So, I think it’s important to look at it through that full funnel. And I think that’s how you provide value by looking at it from more of a consultative, as opposed to a tactical lens. And I think if you can back up and put that consultative lens on it, whether you’re an account director, a digital director, a strategic planner, wherever you are, I think it’s just super useful. And it’s super useful always backing that into conversations that you have with clients.

Charlie Schafer (15:12):

Oftentimes when you get into analytics discussions, at least I found this in my past, it’s like, “Hey, here’s the data from that thing that we did.” You didn’t want to set it up with anything? Nothing? You got no glitz or glamor beforehand? How about just setting it up saying, “Hey, before we get started, let’s remember what we’re looking at today. Let’s remember the purpose of it. Your sales are down, all your measurements that we had this campaign tried to achieve succeeded. Maybe we need to now look at adding an area to your campaign for that conversion later.”

Jeff Culliton (15:44):

So, Sarah does this now make you a unicorn? Because you’re the rare entity that can analyze data and yet tell a story around it as indicated by your presence on the podcast today.

Sarah Shamsi (15:58):

No unicorn. This is a huge team effort. So, kind of what Charlie’s saying is [crosstalk 00:16:02].

Jeff Culliton (16:01):

Oh, look at her. She was deferred.

Joel Hammond (16:06):

Unicorn. [crosstalk 00:16:06].

Jeff Culliton (16:06):

Humble unicorn.

Sarah Shamsi (16:06):

We have to work together on this. So, we all support each other. So, he supports us with knowing what are we trying to solve for? What are we trying to drive our customers or potential customers? And we help kind of fuel his path further. So, once we get them to a conversion, what do we do next? What’s the next step with them? How do we turn them from somebody who bought one time to somebody who’s going to buy again or refer to somebody else? And how do we give them the right information? What’s relevant to that customer or that person that’s going to turn them into an advocate? And we just keep pushing further and further by working together. So yeah, I can make sense of it to some degree, but he’s going to help add the context to how we got there. And then our creative team’s going to chime in with more, like what can we do next for this person?

Jeff Culliton (16:48):

Humble unicorn. Humble. [crosstalk 00:16:50] But I think the, and Joel is a senior person I think would agree, is the ability to look at, analyze and collect relevant data is one thing, certainly a skillset that a lot of people can make a career on. But can you then tell a story of why? Good or bad, I think we get in trouble a lot of the times when we always want to tell a good story, “Oh, this is this way because blah blah.” Sometimes it’s because we did the wrong thing, but it’s about testing. And I just think we get into this scenario all the time, it’s back to zero perfection, is those conversations that you have with people like, You know this is not always going to be great?”

Sarah Shamsi (17:31):

Well, and this is where it becomes a story that’s bigger than just the numbers. So, you have to factor into [crosstalk 00:17:39] other outside influences. Like seasonality, for example, that’s not something that you’re going to see in a click through rate. You’re not going to see a current newsworthy event happening in your data without context. You need the context of what’s happening. So, you might need an account person to say, “Hey, they’re making a change on their team and they’re going to swap up something or they’re going to change their pacing, or we’re going to change something. Or there’s some other event happening that’s not represented in one media campaign.” You need to know, what are the outside influences that are in fact impacting your results.

Jeff Culliton (18:10):

Joel, do people want that or do they just want you to do better and better and better? Do they want honest conversation?

Joel Hammond (18:19):

Yeah, I think so. I mean, I think [crosstalk 00:18:21].

Jeff Culliton (18:21):

I mean, I think so too. I was trying to trap you, it was a trap question.

Joel Hammond (18:24):

No. I mean, I think most people are cognizant of the fact that like when we have major gains on the channels that I oversee and my team oversees, there’s probably a pretty good chance that the next month is probably going to come [inaudible 00:18:42] [crosstalk 00:18:45]. You have a crazy month. Or maybe the, as I mentioned, we’ve studied platforms and all that stuff. So, a steady rise is great. I think there’s, it probably stands to reason that those folks understand that at some point it’s probably not going to be quite like this every month. There’s got to be some leveling off, so…

Jeff Culliton (19:05):

You’ve talked about a lot about in the social platforms that you oversee, organic versus paid and how there’s a real disparity coming from those platforms now, in terms of what’s visible. Do you think it’s just going to be increasingly harder from a data perspective for you all to tell those stories through those channels, those data stories? Like, “We went to market with this and this is really what we think happened.” Or do you think that’s just people getting nervous about privacy regulations and stuff like that? Or do you think, I mean, do you think it’s really going to start clamping down to the point where we have less and less access to see what’s happened from those non-paid entities?

Joel Hammond (19:46):

So, are you saying organically?

Jeff Culliton (19:47):

Well, I’m jumping around a question of the platforms in general.

Joel Hammond (19:53):

Well, I mean, we’ve seen, for all of our clients, organic reach on Facebook has dropped massively. [crosstalk 00:00:20:00]. Absolutely. I’ve said this on the podcast before, and we’re not there yet, but eventually, I mean, your organic reach on Facebook is going to be zero.

Jeff Culliton (20:06):


Joel Hammond (20:07):

Instagram is not there. Actually, Instagram has been a major growth platform for many of our clients, but as you know, those platforms are owned by the same person. And so, stands to reason that eventually that’s going to follow suit to the other platforms. So, you’ve got to, we caution that you’ve got to have paid as part of your plan.

Jeff Culliton (20:31):

So, Sarah your career is younger then Charlie, Joel, and I, respectively, however, still seasoned. What are the biggest changes that you see coming, the most impactful things that you see that we’re doing right now and how they’re going to change from a reporting and analysis standpoint moving forward? Is it visualization? Is it aggregating everything together? What do you think?

Sarah Shamsi (21:01):

I think that’s a huge part of it. I think we’re able to be more efficient now because we’re able to connect and have automated connections, as opposed to… [crosstalk 00:21:10].

Jeff Culliton (21:10):

When you say efficiency, you just mean the intake of data, [crosstalk 00:21:14] the right type of data?

Sarah Shamsi (21:14):

Yes. All of that. We’re able to process it much faster, clean through it, make sense of it, put it into nice, visual representations that we can talk about much faster and be more informed. And then, we can observe some trends and start to actually get to a point where we’re, hopefully, able to project, forecast out, anticipate what’s going to happen next when we make a change. Whereas, right now I feel like a lot of what we do ends up being very reporting out what just happened, very prescriptive. Now we’re trying to be more predictive.

Sarah Shamsi (21:45):

So, we’re moving to a way where it’s like, “Hey, if this is how this campaign has historically performed, what are we expecting when we launch this next one?” And trying to start to model our results and forecast a little bit more. I think that’s something that’s coming up just across the board, as far as data and analytics. Also more interest in trying to use it to make other, more informed decisions in your business. So, beyond just the campaign you’re working on, is it even the right approach or tactic? Should we step back and say, “Hey, this is performed good or bad as a whole, or do we need to pivot entirely?” So, it’s not just about focusing on one component. It’s about focusing on the whole and bringing everything together into one view and trying to see where can you make the biggest impact and hit your audience the hardest or reach a new audience. So, it’s just being more strategic with the results and the data.

Jeff Culliton (22:38):

Hot take. In your career, do you think you’ll see the end of people doing one-off spreadsheets that they throw over the wall at you on a monthly basis?

Sarah Shamsi (22:45):

I hope so.

Jeff Culliton (22:45):

Make something happen. Is that [crosstalk 00:22:49]…

Sarah Shamsi (22:48):

I sure hope so.

Jeff Culliton (22:50):

It’s a soft yes. A hopeful yes. Charlie, talk to me a little bit. I think one of the neat things, we’ve only been working together for a short time, but I think in that time, one of the things that I’ve very much noticed is the depth of upfront work that you and some of our team bring to campaigns that, or just clients in general, that are making a massive impact on things that we recommend. What do you think are, outside of these clicks and click-through rates and views, what are those upfront data sources that you guys look at and have access to surveys, or whatever, that you think have the most impact to give people like Sarah, people like Joel, the ammunition to not only architect campaigns, but then to follow them and pivot them as necessary?

Charlie Schafer (23:44):

Right. Right. So, I would say, if you’re looking at spending your research budget and you are saying, “Hey, we want to launch a campaign. We’re not quite sure.” [crosstalk 00:23:54].

Jeff Culliton (23:54):

First you’re going to recommend the brands have a research budget.

Charlie Schafer (23:56):


Jeff Culliton (23:56):

You should have a research budget.

Charlie Schafer (23:58):

Whether it’s an analytics budget, or it’s an all-in research budget, I would always recommend early, doing some sort of qualitative research, whether it’s focus groups, whether it’s ethnographies and home, whether it’s even just getting on the phone and talking with consumers. The reason being is everything downstream from an analytic standpoint, that you’re able to pull back up, the reason you’re able to pull back up and the reason why you’re sorting it is because you know what questions you want to ask of that data. Usually you discover what questions you want to ask about data from your customers. If you can do that before you launch campaign, you can start in a much safer place. And this is not a new idea by any means.

Charlie Schafer (24:37):

I mean, for decades, people have been copy testing TV ads, right? You go in early, you want to get an idea from a focus group on why they like certain ads, why they don’t like certain ads, why they like these concepts, why they don’t like the concepts. And that gives you a general idea, a general North star of where you want to focus your campaign, some key insights up front. It also levels you hypotheses. So, what are the hypotheses that you’re going to have as this campaign runs? Because it’s never a linear answer. A campaign is never one answer. You’re trying to pick the best answer out of, oftentimes, many good answers, get it in front of people, test it, and now we have the ability to change it mid campaign. We used to not have that ability. Used to be stuck with it all the way through a campaign [crosstalk 00:25:25].

Jeff Culliton (25:25):

You bought your media. [crosstalk 00:25:30]. You rolled it out into the world. Joel saw it on TV and either bought your ring or he didn’t buy your ring.

Charlie Schafer (25:32):

Yeah. Or you canceled your media buy and you called that quarter a wash and your board or stakeholders [crosstalk 00:00:25:41].

Jeff Culliton (25:40):

Get real mad at you.

Charlie Schafer (25:41):

Yeah. They were a little angry, usually, a little fussy, which was rightfully so. You’re rightful to be fussy.

Jeff Culliton (25:47):

You’ve been there?

Joel Hammond (25:48):

Sure, man.

Charlie Schafer (25:48):


Joel Hammond (25:49):

I deal with fussy all the time.

Sarah Shamsi (25:54):

But to Charlie’s point now we’re able to be more nimble, more responsive. Whereas, before we’d report on that, he’d do the focus groups, he test it, he’d say, “Okay, this is the one we’re running with.” And then we’d wait until the campaign ended to find out how did it perform? And we’d look at it [crosstalk 00:26:10]. We look at it backward. And now we’re watching it in near real time. When some cases real time. Saying, “How is this doing right now? And do we need to make a pivot? And can we make a pivot? And what is the right pivot to make?”

Jeff Culliton (26:20):

So, here’s a great question. Is now that we have access to, we’re assuming some upfront work that now we have near real time data that we’re looking at and making decisions off of or trying to make decisions off of, how soon is too soon to be looking at that data? Because you open Pandora’s box, you give somebody access to it on a daily basis and you just have a refresh button. How soon before, how long do you have to let something breathe before starting to make changes to it? I’m sure it’s different from channel to channel, but…

Joel Hammond (26:53):

Well, we had an interesting conversation with a client last week where there was hesitance, we have these proprietary databases and this sort of stuff that we can give our clients access to. But our contacts at this client said, “Well, I don’t want you, I don’t want this shared with my bosses.” Because for that very reason, they’re going to look at it. They’re like, “Well, why is this red? Why is this down 2% today?” Well, it’s a very [crosstalk 00:27:23].

Sarah Shamsi (27:21):

It’s a stock market.

Joel Hammond (27:21):

Yeah. Right.

Sarah Shamsi (27:22):

It’s up and down.

Joel Hammond (27:24):


Jeff Culliton (27:25):

Making bets over here.

Joel Hammond (27:26):

Sure, sure. So, it’s a great question. I think it varies based on campaign, based on client, but there is a tendency I think, to now use this great tool at our disposal to… Well, our job is to not react rationally and react purposefully. But it’s interesting. Your question raised, that recent conversation was just funny. Like, “I don’t want people to see too much data because I don’t want them to think the wrong thing.”

Sarah Shamsi (27:56):

But it also goes back to the fact that now we have some context, whereas before maybe you’d launch one campaign, it’d be an isolated campaign to report on it in that moment, and then you kind of forget about it and move on. Now we’re looking at things with historical context once we have a campaign up and running. So, when we’re looking at a trend and it starts to dip a little bit, we’re saying, “Is this just a moment in time and it’s going to pick back up? Did this do this last year? Did this do this the previous year? Or is this something to really be concerned about? Is this really weaning and we need to make a change?” So, we can be more thoughtful and armed with historical data to make those decisions.

Sarah Shamsi (28:30):

Or as like data. So, compare campaigns for a single client versus each other. If there’s two campaigns in a kind of similar nature, if one’s performing really well and one’s performing poorly, what’s the one doing that’s doing well versus the one that’s performing poorly. And we can educate ourselves a little bit more and see if there’s some difference that we should be capitalizing on.

Charlie Schafer (28:51):

So, do you two, just out of curiosity, do you two think that sometimes when you have odd dips, it’s often just the algorithm figuring out the right audience, especially when we’re looking at social and digital networks? I mean, it just, it always amazes me how quickly the Facebook algorithm now catches up, if you see a dip, it moves things to an audience that might be more preferable based on what they’re seeing really quickly for you.

Joel Hammond (29:21):

My take on it is that if we’re seeing non-performance on Facebook, that’s a pretty good indicator that that’s a type of content or subject matter that people don’t care about in the audience. Now, the trick is that we have stuff that we sort of have to post, not have to post, but it’s stuff, it’s like owned assets that we need to get out there.

Jeff Culliton (29:46):

It’s checking boxes.

Joel Hammond (29:47):

Sure, sure. So, you can’t… There has to be some, like for one of our clients, there’s trending topics seem to perform best. We’ve studied that. But you can’t post that every day. And frankly, there aren’t that many trending topics in the industry. There’s like four and you can’t post that about that every single day.

Jeff Culliton (30:06):

It’s too much too quick?

Joel Hammond (30:07):

Yeah. I mean, it’s a great way to juice some of the performance if you need a pick me up in a week or a month, but you can’t post about that stuff every day. So, yeah. To your point, Charlie, I think that Facebook’s so good at getting stuff in front of people who want to see that stuff, that if people aren’t reacting or interacting with that post, pretty good indicator, that that content is no bueno.

Sarah Shamsi (30:32):

It does vary by platform though. We’ve seen in some other platforms that are not social, more digital space, that sometimes it does take some time to get going and sometimes it’ll change. So, it varies. Facebook’s a little different.

Jeff Culliton (30:47):

Hard pivot. We woke up this morning, it was 47, little overcast, little rainy. Starting with Joel, moving clockwise, you happy that this type of fall is here or are you like, “Oh, shit. Here comes the winter.”

Joel Hammond (31:07):

I’m not happy that fall’s here. I [crosstalk 00:31:11].

Jeff Culliton (31:10):

That is a minority opinion.

Joel Hammond (31:12):

We had a great summer. [crosstalk 00:31:14] Great summer. It was not too hot. I despise the winter. It messes everything up. It’s harder to get kids out the door. It’s harder to get outside. It’s dark when you get home from work. The kids are just monsters. Oh, is that just my kids?

Jeff Culliton (31:29):

You’re projecting. You’re projecting.

Joel Hammond (31:31):

It’s that just my kids? Oh, I’m sorry.

Jeff Culliton (31:33):

No, it’s not.

Joel Hammond (31:33):

No, I didn’t think so. I knew that. So, no. I hate the winter.

Jeff Culliton (31:37):


Sarah Shamsi (31:38):

I have been waiting for this since [crosstalk 00:31:41] June.

Joel Hammond (31:41):

Oh, my.

Jeff Culliton (31:41):

She’s, there’s songs singing from her eyes, she’s so happy it’s fall.

Sarah Shamsi (31:46):

I love this.

Charlie Schafer (31:48):

I’m kind of in between. I think today,

Jeff Culliton (31:52):

Wow. You’re the Neapolitan ice cream of answers.

Charlie Schafer (31:54):

I am. I’m horrible. Horrible. No chunky monkey here.

Jeff Culliton (31:59):

Does chunky monkey really have bananas in it? I never even had before.

Charlie Schafer (32:02):

Just probably flavoring, right? [crosstalk 00:32:03] Some kind of fake banana.

Jeff Culliton (32:04):

It’s awful.

Charlie Schafer (32:06):

Yeah. I thought that yesterday was great. Yesterday for anybody that’s not in Cleveland was solid. 57 to 59 degree day. [crosstalk 00:32:18] You can walk around the city. It’s fantastic. Eh, we went down a little bit too much today. I need that 50. I need it to stay in that mid 50’s for a couple of weeks. Get the leaves turning, and then we can go down and get towards winter. But…

Sarah Shamsi (32:33):

Hey, there’s no snow yet.

Jeff Culliton (32:34):

Yeah. There’s no snow.

Speaker 6 (32:35):

This is beautiful.

Jeff Culliton (32:35):

I’m pretty excited.

Charlie Schafer (32:37):

There could be when we leave.

Jeff Culliton (32:38):

I’m pretty excited myself. [crosstalk 00:32:40] I love this time of year. If the sun stays out, I could care what the temperature is really. It’s, this is fun. But this has been great. I don’t think, if you listened to the podcast for the first time today, and you thought that Sarah was a first-timer, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Because that was, you just, you are loaded with hot takes. You are a gun full of hot takes.

Joel Hammond (32:59):

Humble unicorn.

Jeff Culliton (33:00):

Humble unicorn. We’re going to go somewhere with that. I think so a couple of the things that I took from today. A lot of people think about analysis as an after the fact. I really think what we’re seeing is analytics and the ability to properly analyze things really starts upfront.

Jeff Culliton (33:20):

It is a thread that goes throughout the entire process. And I think treating it as such, begets a lot more success. I think visualization in terms of bridging the gap between people who are highly analytically minded enabled to come through large pieces of data and tell the story makes us all better. It makes everybody friends. It really does. And it gets everybody farther collectively. There’s a door quote, “If you want to go fast, go by yourself. If you want to go far, go with others.” Jim will like that one. But I think this wraps in that perfectly. If we start up front and we know that our goals are ish out here, we can construct things around them so we can make really effective campaigns. And we started to touch on it just at the end, but how much is too much in terms of pining over these automated sets of data, looking for trending and patterning, and that’s a client by client kind of thing. And I think it’s always an interesting kind of nuance for us to try and navigate. But that’s, I guess probably why we’ve been around for 30 years.

Jeff Culliton (34:28):

So, all in all, thank you guys so much. Sarah Shamsi, Charlie Schafer, Joel Hammond, really fun episode today. Something tells me this quartet is going to be back together sometime in the near future. You’d shake your head all you want, but it’s, the boulders running downhill now, Sarah. You’ve proven yourself to be worthy. See you all next time. Episode 53. And we’re out.